Rufus Hound
My Teenage Diary

My Teenage Diary

  • Radio chat show
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2009 - 2021
  • 59 episodes (10 series)

Radio 4 series in which guests read embarrassing extracts from their teenage diaries. Hosted by Rufus Hound.

Press clippings

My Teenage Diary is delightful & embarrassing as ever

The tenth series of Rufus Hound's hit show opens with Jane Horrocks and an adventurous "coming of age" holiday to Sorrento.

Anna Leszkiewicz, The New Statesman, 18th August 2021

My Teenage Diary just keeps getting better. It's like a raunchier Desert Island Discs, and this week's diarist, Rachel Johnson, is marvellous. Her "gap yah" with brother Boris makes for essential listening, but don't expect adolescent angst.

Johnson is no Adrian Mole; her crisp, journalistic style was already perfected at the age of 18. When she does open up, the results are fascinating, whether she's worrying about her relationship with her father or just lusting after the locals while working in an Israeli valve factory ("Israeli soldiers," she informs us, "are really hunky").

Interestingly, before the broadcast Boris made Rachel promise to keep any stories about him "on brand". What we find out about the Mayor is entertaining enough but we can only imagine what those "off brand" anecdotes might be like.

Tristram Fane Saunders, Radio Times, 11th September 2013

This must be a series first - a diary written by someone when they were 21. A good excuse is proffered, though, for this programme's subject - Ken Livingstone - only ever kept the one diary. This occurred in 1966 when he and a friend set out to hitch across the Sahara. Oh, the optimism of youth!

When they arrived in Africa it soon became evident that civil wars and hatred of the British meant that they were going to have to take a different route. I would have been happy to listen to Ken - without interruptions from host Rufus Hound - simply reading from his diary, which is dry in wit and full of fantastic tales.

From a near-death experience when Livingstone did finally get to the desert to sharing a hotel room with an ostrich he named Horace, this is Ken as you've never encountered him before.

Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 21st August 2013

My Teenage Diary is riveting when it works. How do the producers manage to persuade people to do it? Most of the people I know who kept a teenage diary - all women it has to be said - would rather eat their own legs than revisit them in hearing distance of the listening public.

The comedian Rhona Cameron, who grew up on a Wimpy estate in Musselburgh, East Lothian, in the 1970s, was particularly brave as her adolescence was one of bullying, persecution, rebellion, bereavement and desperate unrequited lesbian love. But dear old Rhona chuckled and chortled through her angst-ridden jottings as if reading about someone else's life.

Nick Smurthwaite, The Stage, 25th July 2012

There's an extra reason to tune in to this episode of Rufus Hound's comedy interview series, where celebs come on to gamely read from their awful adolescent journals: for author and ace newspaper columnist Caitlin Moran, her life at 15 and 16 was so extraordinary that Channel 4 are planning to base a sitcom on it, which Moran herself will write.

The show, working title The Big Object, is set to focus on an overweight teen's family life and hunt for a boyfriend. This blast from the source material includes Moran's contemporaneous reaction to being home-schooled in Wolverhampton, to living with seven younger siblings and indeed, amid all that, publishing The Chronicles of Narmo, her first and only novel.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 4th July 2012

Something of a foolproof premise that didn't take a great leap of imagination to commission: celebrities come on and read from their embarrassing teenage diaries. They're famous now so it all turned out OK, leaving them free to rip into their former selves in the company of host Rufus Hound.

First up is Robert Webb, the comedian and actor who has a sideline in sarcastic voiceovers. He uses that skill to make the most of his more than usually pretentious and doomy musings, written in a bungalow in Lincolnshire in 1989.

The present-day Webb neatly sums up the adolescent impulse to document every day of existence despite a lack of events, ascribing it to "that delightful combination of insecurity and conceit that made me think this was the best way to have a decent conversation".

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 27th June 2012

Robert Webb, actor and comedian, opens the diary he kept when he was 17 for the benefit of host (and comedian) Rufus Hound and an enthralled audience. His entries include one about going to a party and kissing a girl he didn't really fancy. I always listen to this programme, now in its fourth series. But I often wonder whether a real conversation with the diaries' authors (who have included Meera Syal, Sheila Hancock, Michael Winner and Julian Clary) would produce something more satisfying than some wisecracks from Hound and lots of easy audience laughs.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 26th June 2012

Radio review: My Teenage Diary

A show that could be brilliant, if only its guests are given the space they deserve.

Tom Meltzer, The Guardian, 16th September 2011

Janet Street-Porter is Rufus Hound's subject. She reads from her teenage journals, about being around in Soho in the Sixties. I seem to remember her writing about this time and being particularly vehement about the horrors of her home life, hence her outrageousness. But the thing about Janet is that the older she grows the nicer she gets. In the Seventies she was nakedly ambitious, in the Eighties ruthlessly power-hungry, in the Nineties she sold her fur coats, grew reflective and funnier. Once the century turned she started to become rather enviably sage.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 8th September 2011

For a precocious 17-year-old from Letchworth, the USA seemed a spellbinding place crying out to be explored. Bucking the parochial grip of 1953 Britain, Michael Winner crossed the Pond and dutifully documented his eye-opening experiences, which he shares here with Rufus Hound'. You can see the germ of the raconteur and go-getter in these engaging diary entries which bristle with wit and youthful arrogance - "New York is a shallow, brash city" - traits he undoubtedly used to get to meet Eddie Fisher and Duke Ellington, though it's not wholly clear how. But there was nothing opaque about America's shocking racism, as a bewildered Winner observed.

Chris Gardner, Radio Times, 1st September 2011

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